Category Archives: Friends

A Weekend of Cooking

So the last half of this past year, after having a wonderful time with the boyfriend, we both managed to slack off a little with our diet and exercise.  What’s the saying, fat and happy?  Well, we’ve both managed to slide back a little in our progress.  So, as with many people, the new year starts off with resolutions.  Resolutions to have a healthier year this year.  And so, this weekend was our time to motivate.  We’ve been having a great time with our new Christmas presents – I got some awesome kitchen knives from my man and he got an awesome Bosch kitchen machine from me.  It’s a mixer and much, much more.  He loves it.

This weekend we started with a run to Costco for our supplies for the weekend.  Back to my place, he made some delicious rye/pumpernickel bread using THE machine – YUM.  Taking a break, we watched some football which was VERY exciting.  Another great meal of salmon and asparagus for dinner finished off our Saturday night.

Sunday morning came, and we decided to make breakfast.  We went with omelets and toast with the homemade bread.  And then he wanted to make butter for our toast…yes, MAKE butter.  So he made butter with the same Bosch machine while I was whipping up our omelet.  He’s quite handy in the kitchen, that is for sure!  We did some more shopping in preparation for the evening’s project and then went down to the gym and worked out.  It’s been awhile since I’ve seen the gym, but it felt good to be back.  Now that we’ve found our initial gym motivation, I think it’ll be easier.  We have about two months until Cancun, so I’m trying to get back into shape for swimsuits!

After another football game, we started on meals for the week.

  I made some mini frittatas in muffin cups and now have some easy, quick, protein-rich breakfast for when I push snooze too many times.  I had one this morning (when I pushed snooze too many times and had to bring it to work) – these were a winner in my book!

After some more football, we started on our lunch for the week project.  I kept seeing these recipes and Pinterest board ideas for Mason jar salads.  I was really liking the idea, but had not as of yet bought any jars to make the salads in.  This weekend we finally bought some and with our Costco supplies, we started in on our Mason jar lunch salads.  We cooked up some chicken and chopped up our veggies (using the wonderful knives, and on a few occasions, the food processor) and had a little salad assembly line going on.  One would be filling while the other was chopping and trying to clean up in between.  It worked well, even with our many ingredients.  Capped the jars and put them in the refrigerator and they were good to go for the week!

Today I brought my salad to work –  the before (in the jar) and after (dumped out) are below.  As I was putting it on the plate, someone walked in and started asking me about it.  I’ve inspired a few people in the office to think about making their own!  🙂  And just for the record – YUM!

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Here’s to a great new year of healthy, happy resolutions!  Looking forward to the rest of the year, full of friends, family, love and good times! All the best to you and yours!


Blog Update – Slacker edition

I’ve been a slacker, I know.  Here’s to a renewed blog in the New Year!  Life has been wonderful these last months.  My boyfriend and I are beyond happy with each other.  We took a few trips out of town over the fall – a camping adventure and a trip to Pittsburgh to see (and for him, to meet) my best friend Jeni and husband Jason, and they all loved each other. We also went down to see his family for Thanksgiving, which was the first time I’ve met them.  We took to each other like a fish takes to water…I love them already and they seem to love me too.  His younger niece asked me if I could be her aunt – I was honored.  They remind me a lot of my own family, and they really made me feel welcome.

The day after Thanksgiving, we went to Paris, which was just wonderful!  I’ve been there a number of times, but this was his first trip there and it was great to be able to show him my Paris.  I was also confident enough in my French ability to make it through most of the trip just speaking French to the various merchants and French people and not once asking “Parlez-vous anglais?”  We also got some beautiful photos, one of which I’ve attached below.

Paris at sunset

We had a great trip back, and a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s.  The new year is upon us, and as we’ve taken stock of the last year, the many ups and downs, we are blissfully happy to start this new year.  He is turning 40 this year, and we have planned a trip down to Cancun, where much of the rest of my family we will meet up with (and he’ll finally get to meet them in person!) and have a ton of fun.  We are both looking forward to that!  We also look forward to getting healthier in the new year, learning new things and just appreciating everything we have.  I think coming back to Washington for a tour was the best move I’ve made in a long time!

 


Amazing!

Well, the last few weeks have been amazing!  Work is going well – all my new colleagues seem friendly and I’ve run into a number of people from previous posts.  I’ve also spent a lot of time with my new boyfriend.  A week or so ago we had that talk about our budding relationship and decided to start using those labels – it is Facebook official, we are ‘in a relationship’!  We’ve been sailing, cooking, hanging out, and every day he surprises me with his wonderfully sweet nature.

One weekend he decided he was going to surprise me, so he wouldn’t tell me where we were going other than “east” and on a picnic of sorts.  So, we made a picnic and off we went for a drive.  We drove, and drove some more…city turned into woods…and I wondered where we were going.  I started seeing some signs for wineries and wondered… and lo and behold, that’s where we went!  We had a lovely bottle of wine with some delicious cheese, 1000581_10200926966229558_902511679_n  then I was told we were moving locations shortly… More surprises!  We hopped back in the car, then drove to a polo field of all things.  I never could have guessed that one!  We had brought some sand chairs with us and a blanket, so we spread out on the lawn and watched polo while picnicking!!  I was over the moon with a huge smile and really started falling for this wonderful man that night.  The next day we went sailing; it was just a perfect weekend!  I look forward to many more weekends together.  And tomorrow, we are moving to another level – he’s going to meet one of my best friends – we are all going out for dinner!

So, in a nutshell, I am SO happy that I decided to move back to the USA for a few years!  This is truly what I needed after 6 years overseas, and especially after 2 years in Baghdad.  Here’s to a fabulous two years in the US!


Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day! This is the first July Fourth I’ve been in the USA in many years. It’s starting off as a beautiful day. I’ve gotten a little festive this year, with jello molds.

20130704-080200.jpg Because what else says America like jello in all its festiveness? Today we are having that American creation called the taco too. 🙂

I’ve been enjoying my home leave with family and seeing some old friends. We’ve gone out on the lake (it’s Minnesota, “the lake” means whichever one you’re closest to) a few times on the pontoon and I’ve had more than a couple Bloody Marys – because nobody makes them like Minnesota does, and it’s also the only place I’ve been where you get a beer chaser with it!

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I got a message from WordPress yesterday telling me I’ve been writing this blog for two years now! Looking back on the adventures in Iraq, it was a truly unique experience and I think I learned a lot about myself in that time. Not only that, I also turned forty! I thank you, my dear readers, for all your support these last two years. It’s amazing for me to think that people all over the world are reading my blog, and it reminds me how big and small the world is in the very same moment.

America is an amazing mixture of people and I am proud to be home on this Fourth of July. I hope everyone has (and had) a wonderful day!


The Next Chapter

I am officially out of Baghdad! I’ve ended that chapter in my life and am ready to start the new adventure! It’s been a strange six weeks or so since I last wrote. I’ve let go of much of the anger I was holding on to from Mr. Wrong, and after a few weeks of moping decided I was ready to truly forgive and move on with my life.

There have been some very positive changes in my life in the last month! The sale of the house that I owned with my ex-husband was finalized, which is a huge weight off my shoulders. I found a place to live in Arlington that is only a mile from work as well! I had looked at apartments when I was back last time, but none of them really grabbed me and said THIS IS HOME. So, I decided to start looking on Craigslist and found a condo that was just perfect for me! The owner is very nice and helpful and I look forward to being her tenant. 🙂 Having the stress of where to live gone is a wonderful feeling. I’ve even set up my electric to be turned on for when I move in and have been researching Internet options for the place. I’m trying to decide whether or not I want cable as well – how much tv do I really watch?

Along with moving on, I decided since I’m moving somewhere I could actually have a normal dating life, I would check out the dating sites online. EHarmony was having a free communication weekend, so I tried it out. Their process I liked a little better than some of the other ones, which kept pairing me up with people that said they definitely want kids. So, I started chatting a little with some matches and there is one so far that has captured my attention. We’ve been emailing back and forth daily, and have had a couple Skype dates that went on for 2+ hours each, and are looking forward to finally meeting in person (for sushi and trivia!) when I get back to the area.

As I said, I made it out of Baghdad now and am currently relaxing on home leave. This last week I’ve mostly just been decompressing from Baghdad trying to figure out what I should do while I’m here. It feels a little weird, knowing I’m not going back there, but I’m looking forward to my new adventures in DC!


Two months left

I have about two months left in my tour here.  I can’t believe I’ve been here this long!  The last two months have been a whirlwind of emotion.  Since I wrote last, I’ve taken a trip out of here and visited a friend in Naples.  It was a fun trip, and I got great news in the middle of the trip – the man I love (mentioned in my last post) was called back to Baghdad!  He was here when I returned, which made me very happy.  When we first saw each other again, we stood and hugged for about five minutes straight.  I think we both realized just how much we’d missed each other.  So, after a little talk, we got back together.  It was a great month.

He had applied to some jobs back home in the limbo time he was in, and had a couple of phone interviews once he got back here.  I told him he was awesome and that they’d love him, and they did!  They offered him the job (as I assured him they would) and wanted him to start in two weeks.  He found out Wednesday and told his company, and they decided to ship him out of Baghdad on Saturday.  A bit of a shock to both of us at the quickness of it all.  As we sat together Thursday night,  all he could say was that he didn’t want it to happen this fast, and that he doesn’t want to leave.  I had a few tears leak out, because those were the same thoughts I had.  (Did I mention dating in the Foreign Service sucks?)  But we pulled our happy faces on and had one last fun game night together with friends.

Friday we had a good talk about where we want this to go from here.  We agreed that we want to see each other, and when I told him I’ll miss talking to him every day, he assured me that he intends to talk to me on the phone almost every day.  I told him about options down the road, if we decide it’s too hard being apart, where I could take time off from my job and move to where he is for a year and we could see how it goes.  He left a couple of days ago, and I am already starting to miss him.  This is not going to be easy!  Some days I think it’d be easier if I just broke it off now and moved on with my life.  I can’t do that though – I believe in our love and can’t just throw it away because we aren’t in the same place.  The two months we had apart made me realize that.  Our talk made me hopeful for our future.  We’ll see where it takes us!


17 Months

I have been in Baghdad for 17 months as of today.  I have a (hopefully) short four months left.  This last month and a half has been hard, and the last two weeks really hard.  Two weeks ago I thought I’d see the man I love again in two days.  Twelve days ago I found out his position had been eliminated and he wasn’t coming back to Baghdad – he didn’t find out much before that.  While we were no longer ‘together’, I still love him and was really looking forward to seeing him again.  The thought that I might never see him again filled me with pain.  SO MUCH.  It left this dark spot in me.  However, we are still in contact and he assures me that we will see each other again – he will come visit me in Washington DC once I get settled.  That seems so far away.  I want nothing more than to be in his arms again.  I can’t imagine loving anyone as much as I love him.  However, I know I need to try to start to move on.  Que sera sera…  I’m slowly, SLOWLY, working this out in my head.  It’ll take time, and it won’t happen overnight, so I just have to be patient with myself and try to have fun in the meantime.  As I’ve said before, and many will say after me, dating in the Foreign Service is not for the faint of heart.  In a word, it sucks.

As well as him not coming back, I have a lot of friends here that are leaving due to the ‘right-sizing’ of the embassy and their own positions being eliminated.   Since I arrived before the military left Iraq, I’ve seen quite a few changes around here.  It’s a never-ending change – you go on vacation and so many things are different in the short span of a few weeks when you return.  But I think the changes going on right now are some of the most drastic that I’ve seen in my time here.  It almost makes me want to leave early too…but four months should go by fast, especially with two more trips out before I go.  It’ll be over before I know it.  Right?


Looking Back

Just taking a quick moment to look back at the year and remind myself how fortunate I am.  In the last year, I have fallen in love, traveled in and out of country, and received a handshake for a position that is perfect for me.  I have made great friends in Baghdad, strengthened friendships in other parts of the world, and am generally happy and content with life.  I got a bracelet for Christmas – it says “Life is a journey, not a destination…enjoy the moments.”  My New Year’s resolution is to live up the this saying, and enjoy the moments that come into my life, as they are what makes life worth living.  While there are some tough moments for sure, life is defined by how you react to what happens.  I plan to react with love in my heart and a song on my lips.

Wishing everyone a happy and loving new year!


Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!  My holidays this year were some of the best in recent memory.  In Baghdad, no less!!  While I was unable to make it back to the U.S. to see family this year, I ended up having so many laughs over the past week that I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.  I am so fortunate to have such awesome people in my life.  Between game nights, dinners, karaoke, movies, and calls from my family, it was FABULOUS.

 

 

We (boyfriend and I) made sushi and egg drop soup for Christmas Eve dinner – I had brought back some cold smoked salmon with me from Greece to use in the sushi – and it was delicious!  I made my first attempt at a rainbow roll – it was so pretty I had to take a picture.

 

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We ate,  then my mom called, wondering if we had opened presents yet.  I had received one, but it didn’t end up being the one from her.  I had her on speakerphone, and so the boyfriend and mom got to say hello to each other.  We opened presents, then friends came over and we played games – and talked to my family some more while we were playing (EVERYONE got to say hello and LOVE YOU MOM) – it was a perfect night.  Christmas Day we watched one of my all time favorite non-traditional Christmas movies – The Ref.  It was his first time seeing in and he was not disappointed.  We made it out of the apartment and to the DFAC for Christmas dinner.  It was a wonderful way to spend the holidays – with the one I love.

 

 

 

 

 


Serendipity

I know I haven’t written in FOREVER, and much has happened. Where to start? Well, first some updates. My last post had me taking the FSO test. I got my results back – I passed the first three parts, but missed the essay by two points. Oh well, there’s always next year!

Next, I went on my third regional rest break. This trip took me to the Dead Sea, Venice, and a cruise to the Greek Isles and Turkey. It was my first cruise, and I had a wonderful time. Weather was perfect, sunsets were beautiful, and service was friendly. I have decided I like cruising. I will definitely do it again!

My Happiness Project is moving along well. My exercise regimen has taken off in full force. While on the cruise, I met with a personal trainer, and she made me a two week alternating workout regimen that works out all the different areas of my body. I’ve been at it for three weeks and see some major changes. I love it! Along with working out, I’ve made other changes in my life as well. For July I am trying to remove clutter from my life. I have done some organizing, and am trying to keep my room clutter free. I don’t always succeed, but it’s a work in progress.

As well as getting rid of clutter in my space, I took a look at my personal life. The guy I’d been dating here, while I knew for months I needed something different, something more, I held onto him because it was easy. In July, I decided to let go of this emotional clutter that was not making me happy. We want different things, and the things I needed in my life just aren’t in his nature. So I moved on and just feel relieved to have said what I’ve been thinking and be done with it.

Just when I wasn’t looking, BAM, I meet Mr. Right. Er, I mean Mr. Wright. I went to a farewell party the other night and met someone new. We talked for a few hours, exchanged numbers, talked more, hugged and said goodbye. He is thoughtful, kind, funny, sweet, and a gentleman. When I said I needed more, that I deserved better, this is what I was talking about. When I asked him over for dinner, he asked if he could bring anything, and then he brought more! He asked if he could help clean up as well. It’s not even been a week and I’ve fallen very hard. However, he just left for vacation – I miss him already. We are going to keep in touch while he’s away (seven long weeks!) and I’ll be on R&R for a few weeks of that, so that will help to pass the time. I am counting the days until he gets back. Serendipity is the word I’ve found for this fortuitous meeting. While the timing could be better – like if he wasn’t leaving for vacation less than a week after our meeting – the timing also gave us an excuse to spend a lot of time together before he left.

So, that’s been life in (and out of) Baghdad. I promise to write more often in the future!


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